Lucy Lawless

Lucy Lawless

Born: March 29, 1968
Age: 50
Birthplace: Mount Albert, Auckland, New Zealand
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Biography

Lucille Frances Lawless, MNZM (née Ryan; born 29 March 1968) is a New Zealand actress and singer best known for playing the title character in the internationally-successful television series Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001).

She is also widely known for her role as Number Three on the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series (2005-2009) and for the role of Lucretia in the television series Spartacus: Blood and Sand (2010), its prequel Spartacus: Gods of the Arena (2011) and its sequel Spartacus: Vengeance (2012).

Most recently, Lawless had a recurring role on the fifth and sixth season of the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation as Diane Lewis, a single mother who falls for Ron Swanson (2012-2015), starred as Countess Palatine Ingrid Von Marburg on the WGN America series Salem (2015) and plays Ruby on Ash vs. Evil Dead (2015-present).

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Early life

Lucille Frances "Lucy" Ryan was born in the Auckland suburb of Mount Albert, the daughter of Julie Ryan, a teacher, and Frank Ryan, a banker and Mount Albert's mayor. She is the fifth of six siblings, who include her four brothers and one sister. Lawless has described her family as "this big, sprawling Irish Catholic family", and while filming in Ireland for the Discovery Channel in 2004, she told Ireland on Sunday: her father's family originated in Quilty, County Clare, and her great-grandfather arrived in New Zealand as a convict.

Ryan appeared in her first musical at the age of 10 and began acting in secondary school. She attended Marist College, Auckland, and at 18, like many young New Zealanders, she went on her "overseas experience", travelling through Europe and Australia with her future husband, Garth Lawless. At 21, she won the 1989 Mrs New Zealand competition.

Lawless has said she suffered from bulimia as a child, but she was able to overcome the illness.

Career

Her debut on television was two and a half seasons as a cast member of the New Zealand sketch comedy series "Funny Business" - after which she studied drama at the William Davis Centre for Actors Study in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

In 1994, Lawless appeared in Hercules and the Amazon Women, a Pacific Renaissance Pictures made-for-television film that became the television pilot for Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. In that episode, she played a man-hating Amazon named Lysia. She went on to play another character, Lyla, in the first-season episode "As Darkness Falls."

Xena: Warrior Princess

Lawless received her best-known role when she was asked to play a heroic warrior woman named Xena in the episode "The Warrior Princess," which aired in March 1995 (R. J. Stewart, one of Pacific Renaissance Pictures's in-house writers, dramatised the teleplay from a story that Robert G. "Rob" Tapert commissioned John Schulian to write). The character proved to be very successful among fans of the show.

Vanessa Angel was originally cast in the role, but she fell ill and was unable to travel to New Zealand for shooting. To differentiate between Xena and the similar Lysia, Lawless' hair, previously an ash blonde, was dyed black. She also wore a much darker costume, which made her unrecognisable as the Lysia character. Lawless subsequently returned as Xena in two more episodes of the first season of Hercules, which portrayed her turn from villainess to a good, heroic character.

The character was popular enough that a spin-off series was created: Xena: Warrior Princess debuted on 4 September 1995. Xena: Warrior Princess, like its parent programme, was a huge hit and achieved high ratings and cultural significance, lasting six seasons. The series brought Lawless an immense amount of attention and she became an international celebrity.

While taping an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in October 1996, Lawless suffered a fractured pelvis when the horse she was riding lost its footing in the studio car park. She made a complete recovery, but several episodes of the second season of Xena were rewritten to focus on background characters to minimise the time Lawless was needed on set.

Lesbian icon

See also: Xena: Warrior Princess in popular culture

Xena's ambiguous romantic relationship with travelling companion Gabrielle (Renee O’Connor) led to Lawless becoming a lesbian icon, a role she has said she's proud of. She has said that during the years she was playing the role, she had been undecided on the nature of the relationship, but in a 2003 interview with Lesbian News magazine, she said that after viewing the series finale, she had come to see Xena and Gabrielle's relationship as definitely gay, adding "they're married, man."

This reputation became cemented after her "graphic lesbian sex scenes" in Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. She has appeared at gay pride events such as the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

For her strong support of LGBT rights, including her public support for marriage equality, in 2017 Lawless was given the Star 100-Ally of the Year award at the Australian LGBTI Awards ceremony.

Other work

Lawless first appeared on Broadway in September 1997 in the Grease revival, as the "bad girl" character, Betty Rizzo. She wanted to play the lead role of Sandy, and later stated her belief that the producers typecast her to play "bad girls" following her success as Xena. She said the Sandy character was very similar to her sheltered childhood, growing up in New Zealand with many protective older brothers.

From 2005 to 2009, she had a recurring role in the television series Battlestar Galactica. Lawless appeared as D'Anna Biers, a reporter with the Fleet News Service who worked on a critical documentary about the crew of the Galactica and was later revealed to be a Cylon (Number Three).

Lawless competed as one of the celebrity singers on the Fox reality TV show Celebrity Duets in 2006, finishing as the runner-up to winner Alfonso Ribeiro.

Lawless has also performed as a voice actor in several animated features: In 2008, Lawless voiced the animated character of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman in the direct-to-video superhero animated film, Justice League: The New Frontier, adapted from the DC Comics limited series. In 2014, Lawless voiced the militaristic "Queen of the Ants" in the American animated television series Adventure Time on the Cartoon Network.

In 2007, Lawless was to appear as one of the leads in the ensemble cast of the ABC television series, Football Wives, based on the popular British series Footballers' Wives. However, the series did not continue past the pilot episode, yet the network extended the options on its contracts with Lawless and the other actors slated to star in the series, including Gabrielle Union, Kiele Sanchez, Ving Rhames, and James Van Der Beek.

Lawless returned to television on 10 November 2008, in a guest-starring role on the CBS television series, CSI: Miami, in a Season 7 episode, "Cheating Death", playing a madam with connections to a murder, and helping Horatio "H" Caine with his inquiries.

In 2009, Lawless appeared in two episodes of the final season of The L Word as Sergeant Marybeth Duffy. She played a role in the Adam Sandler movie, Bedtime Stories, released Christmas 2008. Also in 2008, Lawless appeared with her former Xena stuntwoman Zoë Bell in Sony (Crackle)'s new web series Angel of Death, written by Ed Brubaker, which debuted online in early 2009.

In 2009, Lawless guest-starred in the HBO series, Flight of the Conchords as Paula, assistant to the Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Lawless co-starred in the Starz original series Spartacus: Blood and Sand. The show was based on the life of Spartacus, the famous gladiator, and the slave revolt he led, and was produced by long-time Xena producers Sam Raimi and "Rob" Tapert, her own husband. Lawless played the role of Lucretia, the wife of Lentulus Batiatus, who were both the owners of a gladiator ludus, which also saw Lawless doing nude scenes for the first time. Lawless won the 2011 Saturn Award as Best Supporting Actress for her role as Lucretia in Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Lawless reprised her role as Lucretia in Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, which chronicled life in the Ludus before Spartacus's arrival, and she also returned for the sequel Spartacus: Vengeance.

Lawless provided the voice of Goldmoon for Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight, a direct-to-DVD animated movie based on the novel of the same name, as well as Wonder Woman in the direct-to-video animated movie Justice League: The New Frontier. From 2012 to 2014, Lawless had a recurring role on the NBC series Parks and Recreation as Diane, the love interest and eventual wife of Ron Swanson.

In 2014, she guest starred in Agents of Shield as Isabelle Hartley in the season two premiere, and reprised the role later in episode 15 of season two, 'One Door Closes.' In 2015, Lawless landed the recurring guest role of Countess Palatine Ingrid Von Marburg in WGN America's Salem. She plays Countess Marburg, one of the last remaining survivors of the legendary line of ancient German witches. In March 2015, it was announced that she would be portraying the role of Ruby in Starz TV series Ash vs. Evil Dead.

Singing career

Lawless, who has a background in musical theatre, played Betty Rizzo on Broadway in a production of Grease in 1997. She continued to sing during the run of Xena, even contributing dirge music of her own composition; this made it into the episode "The Path Not Taken" as the dirge "Burial," which she sang for the first time in the episode. Two musically-oriented episodes, "The Bitter Suite" and "Lyre, Lyre, Heart's On Fire," also showcased not only her singing but also that of some of her castmates. (See also List of Xena: Warrior Princess episodes for details.)

Lucy was encouraged to pursue a career in singing after being a contestant on Celebrity Duets, which she finished as runner-up to Alfonso Ribeiro. She made her onstage debut at the Roxy in Hollywood, a venue of 500 seats, on 13 January 2007, with a sold-out crowd for back-to-back concerts.

Charity

Lawless is a member of the board of trustees of the StarShip Foundation, the charity arm of the Starship Children's Health (hospital) which is part of the Auckland District Health Board. It is set up to provide additional equipment, support and help to staff, patients and families. She devotes much time and energy to fundraising for the organisation. She recently sat for the New Zealand television series The Sitting, an arts series where celebrity portraits are produced during an interview session, with the portraits later auctioned for charity.

Lawless attended the auction where her portrait fetched the top price, with the whole event raising $39,000 for Starship. Lawless has often raised money for concerts and events, donates part of her salary in favour of the institution, and has sold some Xena costumes to contribute funds. In mid February 2012, Lawless sang at New Zealander of the Year donating her appearance fee to the Starship Foundation.

Since 2006, 21 September marks "Lucy Lawless Feel the Love Day/Week." The day, organised by the Official Lucy Lawless Fan Club, begins a week of charitable acts and donations by fans in honour and support of Lawless.

Activism

In May 2009, Lawless became a "climate ambassador" for the Greenpeace "Sign On" campaign.

In February 2012, Lawless and six other Greenpeace activists boarded an oil drilling ship at Port Taranaki, New Zealand, and remained on it for 77 hours to stop it leaving for the Arctic where it was going to take part in oil exploration. She was subsequently arrested and charged with burglary, which carries an imprisonment term of up to 10 years if convicted. She pleaded guilty on 14 June 2012 to trespass charges regarding the February incident. Lawless said she intends for now to remain involved with Greenpeace.

In February 2013, Lawless and the other six activists were each sentenced to pay a fine of NZ$651 (about US$547) and 120 hours of community service. The judge denied the $545,000 in reparations that Shell Todd Oil Services had sought from the activists. Following the sentencing, Lawless said: "I consider it a great victory that the court has struck down the reparation demand from Shell, which I think was absolutely ludicrous."

Astronomy

Astronomer Michael E. Brown nicknamed his newly discovered dwarf planet "Xena"—finding this name more convenient to use than the then-official designation, 2003 UB313. When this object was initially determined to be larger than Pluto, it gained international attention and forced a year-long debate among astronomers as to the definition of a planet (Observations made by New Horizons subsequently found Pluto to be marginally larger than Eris).

The object's nickname "Xena" was used in the press. New Scientist magazine polled the public on their preferred final name for the so-called tenth planet; "Xena" ranked number 4. Lawless rang Mike Brown in December 2005 to thank him for his "senseless act of beauty," and claimed that she "never dared hope would stick." Eventually, both it and Pluto were deemed not to be planets, and were instead classified as dwarf planets.

Although "Xena" is now officially known as Eris, Brown made an indirect tribute to Lawless by naming Eris' moon Dysnomia after the Greek goddess of lawlessness.

Personal life

In 1988, at the age of 19, Lawless became pregnant by her boyfriend Garth Lawless, while working with him in the Australian outback. They married in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia that same year and returned to New Zealand, where their daughter, Daisy Lawless, was born. They divorced in 1995.

On 28 March 1998, Lawless married Xena's executive producer, Pacific Renaissance Pictures CEO Robert G. "Rob" Tapert. They have two sons: Julius Robert Bay Tapert (born 16 October 1999) and Judah Miro Tapert (born 7 May 2002), who were both born in Auckland, New Zealand.

Awards and nominations

Lawless became a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2004 Queen's Birthday Honours List, which entitled her to use the postnominal letters MNZM.

Year Award Category Production Result
1997 Saturn Award Best Genre TV Actress Xena: Warrior Princess Nominated
2010 Golden Nymph Outstanding Actress - Drama Series Spartacus: Blood and Sand Nominated
2010 Saturn Award Best Supporting Actress on Television Spartacus: Blood and Sand Won
2016 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Best Supporting Actress on Television Salem Nominated

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes
1990 Within the Law Verity
1990 Bitter Song, AA Bitter Song Nurse 1 Short film
1991 End of the Golden Weather, TheThe End of the Golden Weather Joe's Girl
1993 Rainbow Warrior, TheThe Rainbow Warrior Jane Redmond Television movie
1993 Typhon's People Mink Tertius Television movie
1994 Hercules and the Amazon Women Lysia Television movie
1996 Peach Peach Short film
1997 Hercules & Xena: Wizards of the Screen Xena Short film
1998 Hercules and Xena - The Animated Movie Xena
2000 Ginger Snaps Announcer on School's PA System Uncredited
2002 Spider-Man Punk Rock Girl
2004 EuroTrip Madame Vandersexxx
2005 Boogeyman Mary Jensen
2005 Locusts Maddy Rierdon Television movie
2005 Vampire Bats Maddy Rierdon Television movie
2006 Darkroom, TheThe Darkroom Cheryl
2008 Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight Goldmoon
2008 Justice League: The New Frontier Wonder Woman
2008 Bedtime Stories Aspen
2009 Bitch Slap Mother Superior
2010 Lez Chat Construction Worker Short film
2017 The Changeover Sci Fi New Zealand

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1989 Funny Business Various Unknown episodes
1990 Shark in the Park Kim Hughes Episode: "Double or Quits"
1991 For the Love of Mike Helen Episode: "1.6"
1992 Ray Bradbury Theater, TheThe Ray Bradbury Theater Liddy Barton Episode: "Fee Fie Foe Fum"
1993 New Adventures of the Black Stallion, TheThe New Adventures of the Black Stallion Sarah McFee Episode: "Riding the Volcano"
1994 High Tide Undercover policewoman Episode: "Shanghied"
1995 High Tide Sharon List Episode: "Dead in the Water"
1995-1998 Hercules: The Legendary Journeys Lyla 2 episodes
1995 Hercules: The Legendary Journeys Xena 6 episodes
1995-2001 Xena: Warrior Princess Xena 134 episodes
1999 The Simpsons Herself Episode: "Treehouse of Horror X"
2000 Celebrity Deathmatch Herself Episode: "The Return of Lucy Lawless"
2001 Just Shoot Me! Stacy Episode: "The Auction"
2001 X-Files, TheThe X-Files Shannon McMahon 2 episodes
2003 Tarzan Kathleen Clayton 7 episodes
2003 Warrior Women with Lucy Lawless Herself 5 episodes
2004 Less than Perfect Tracy Fletcher Episode: "Ignoring Lydia"
2005 Two and a Half Men Pamela Episode: "It Was Mame, Mom"
2005-2009 Battlestar Galactica D'Anna Biers 16 episodes
2006 Veronica Mars Agent Morris Episode: "Donut Run"
2007 Burn Notice Evelyn Episode: "False Flag"
2007 Curb Your Enthusiasm Herself Episode: "The TiVo Guy"
2007 Football Wives Tanya Austin Unsold TV pilot
2008 CSI: Miami Audrey Yates Episode: "Cheating Death"
2009 L Word, TheThe L Word Sgt. Marybeth Duffy 2 episodes
2009 Flight of the Conchords Paula Episode: "New Zealand Town"
2009 Angel of Death Vera Episode: "Help"
2010 Spartacus: Blood and Sand Lucretia 13 episodes
2011 Spartacus: Gods of the Arena Lucretia 6 episodes
2011 American Dad! Stacy Episode: "A Piñata Named Desire"
2011 No Ordinary Family Helen Burton 4 episodes
2012 Spartacus: Vengeance Lucretia 10 episodes
2012-2014 Parks and Recreation Diane Lewis 10 episodes
2013 Top of the Lake Caroline Platt 2 episodes
2014-2015 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Isabelle Hartley 2 episodes
2014 The Code Alex Wisham 6 episodes
2014 Adventure Time General Tarsal (voice) Episode: "Dentist"
2015-2017 Salem Countess Marburg 15 episodes
2015-present Ash vs. Evil Dead Ruby Knowby 27 episodes
2016 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Hiidrala (voice) Episode: "The Cosmic Ocean"

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2011 Hunted: The Demon's Forge Seraphine

Stage

  • 1997: Grease! - On Broadway, NY USA
  • 2002: The Vagina Monologues - Auckland, NZ
  • 2005: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes - Seattle, USA
  • 2011: BARE For Christchurch - Auckland, NZ
  • 2013: Chicago The Musical - Hollywood Bowl, LA, USA
  • 2013: Chicago The Musical - Auckland, NZ
  • 2014-2015: SLEEPING BEAUTY and Her Winter Knight - Pasadena, CA, USA
  • 2017: Pleasuredome The Musical - Auckland, NZ

Concerts

  • 13-14 January 2007 - The Roxy Theater; Los Angeles
  • 31 May - 2 June 2007 - The Canal Room; New York City
  • 5-6 October 2007 - Buddy Guy's Legends; Chicago
  • 25-26 January 2008 - The Roxy Theater; Los Angeles
  • 3-4 May 2008 - "Bad Girls in Heaven", Carling Academy Islington; London
  • June 2008 - Live at CityWalk, Universal Studios; Hollywood
  • 27 September 2008 - Live at the Herbst Theater; San Francisco
  • 30-31 January 2009 - "The Pleasuredome", The Roxy Theater; Los Angeles

Albums

  • Come 2 Me
  • Come To Mama: Lucy Lawless In Concert: The Roxy Theater In Hollywood

Concert DVDs

  • Come To Mama: Lucy Lawless In Concert: The Roxy Theater In Hollywood
  • Gimme Some, Sugar: Lawless, NYC
  • Lucy Lawless Live In Chicago: Still Got The Blues
  • Lucy Lawless Live At The Roxy Theater: Ho Down
  • Lucy Lawless Live In Concert: "Welcome To The Pleasuredome"

Other songs

  • "Little Child" on Unexpected Dreams - Songs From the Stars
  • "4 all of us" with Pauly Fuemana (OMC)
  • "Little Child" The Starship Christmas Album 2012 - Starship Foundation

[ Source: Wikipedia ]